A&A news


Employer Health Costs Increase 9.2 Percent in 2005

The latest Kaiser/HRET survey states that for the first time in five years, employer health costs have not increased in double digits. It is good news, to a point. The 9.2 percent growth rate was more than three times the average growth rate of worker wages as well as inflation. Workers also paid more for their health benefits. On average, the amount paid for family coverage increased from $149 in 2001 to $226 in 2005 -- an increase of almost 52 percent. The current cost dip is not considered a strong indication of future slowdowns in health coverage costs.

U.S. Trade Deficit Decreases in July

The Commerce Department reported last week that the nation’s trade deficit narrowed in July as a record amount of U.S. goods and services were sold overseas. The trade deficit, expected to increase by about 3 percent, instead shrank by 2.6 percent to $57.9 billion. Economists had noted slight hints indicating this turn-around.

For Accounting Purposes, Katrina Considered 'Ordinary'

If Hurricane Katrina and the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks are not considered “extraordinary” events, what are?

Browser-Based Utility Converts Excel Spreadsheets to Capitalization Tables

Two Step Software, Inc. on Tuesday announced the first browser-based import/export utility enabling the creation of fully diluted capitalization tables directly from Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.“Tracking stock and option information is only half the battle for stock plan administrators. The real challenge has always been creating summary capitalization information from hundreds of ownership records and many different classes of stock and convertible securities,” says Gary D. Levine, President and Founder of Two Step Software.

Unemployment Insurance Celebrates 70 Years of Assistance

Created by the law that created the Social Security system, Unemployment Insurance is celebrating an anniversary. The Social Security Act of 1935 set up the federal-state partnership for the unemployment insurance (UI) program and Michigan was the first state to adopt their own UI law.“Citizens really need this program. There are thousands and thousands of workers all across the nation that depend on this program,” said Ron Macksoud, a public information specialist of the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations speaking with the Auburn Plainsman.

The Best of Both Worlds: QuickBooks Integrated with ACT!

ACT! and QuickBooks have long been front runners in the contact management and accounting software race. On Monday, September 12, Sage Software announced the addition of ACT!Link for use with QuickBooks to its ACT! by Sage 2006 contact and customer management product family. “As a market-leading business solution, it is important for ACT! to integrate with many common applications,” noted Joe Bergera, ACT! senior vice president and general manager for Sage Software.

Hurricane's Harm to Crops Could Influence Farm Subsidies Debate

Farmers across the country are racing against time to save at least part of a devastating harvest season.In the gulf states that were directly impacted by the fury of Hurricane Katrina, farmers are rushing to save dying cattle, restore electricity and find scarce, and expensive, diesel fuel. Farmers in the breadbasket states need to move their corn, soybeans and wheat to export markets, but the just-opened Port of New Orleans is a transportation bottleneck. The American Farm Bureau Federation predicts $2 billion in damage to farmers nationwide, the New York Times reported.
Practice Management

Small Business Compliance with Current Labor Laws

Labor Day pays tribute to the American worker. What better time to remind employers that compliance with all labor laws promotes the spirit of hard work and enterprise and is not only well-warranted but can help prevent expensive penalties. Companies that do not keep current with constant changes to federal, state and OSHA labor law postings risk being cited for non-compliance, says Fiducial, an international provider of professional business services to small businesses and individuals.

Free Calls & Financial Assistance for Hurricane Katrina Survivors

InterCall is providing free conference calling through Salvation Army aid stations to victims of Hurricane Katrina. Businesses in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi affected by Katrina can also receive assistance through InterCall’s CrisisConnect service.

SBA Small Business Report Raises Criticism

Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez (D-NY) has alleged that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) incorrectly reported data contained in their prime contracting report on 2004 federal contacting. The report released in August stated small businesses had been awarded 23.1 percent of all federal contracting dollars or $69.2 billion on about 4.4 million actions.

Insurance Industry Ready to Pay Katrina Claims

As the devastation from Hurricane Katrina becomes more clear and property loss estimates continue to be revised upward, insurers say they should be able to pay the claims.Insurance experts say the industry is prepared to withstand the cost of the claims without threatening its own solvency.

Microsoft Ships Small Business Accounting Package

Microsoft plans to go head-to-head with Intuit's popular Quickbooks when it starts shipping a small business accounting (SBA) product as well as an SBA Office suite version this week. The software giant plans to release a standalone package named “Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting 2006” which will support up to five users. They also intend to launch an Microsoft Office suite version named “Microsoft Office Small Business Management Edition 2006 with Microsoft Small Business Accounting 2006” starting this week as reported by CRN today.

SBA, Labor Dept. Expect Flood of Applications

Experts expect the number of new applications for unemployment benefits and federal disaster loans to increase dramatically in coming days and weeks. The jobless rate in the states ravaged by Hurricane Katrina are expected to spike to 25 percent or higher the Associated Press reports.

XBRL GL: More Than Reporting

As powerful, and useful, as eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) is for sharing information between organizations, there is more to business, and accounting than just reporting. There is also more to XBRL than just financial reporting taxonomies. In July, XBRL International release the latest version of XBRL GL, the General Ledger taxonomy which allows for more efficient handling of financial and business information within an organization.The XBRL GL taxonomy represents any information found in a chart of accounts, journal entries or historical transactions.

Accounting and Tax Relief for Business Owners Hit by Katrina

The financial impact of Hurricane Katrina will not be known for many days, even weeks. But that is not stopping the Internal Revenue Service or the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) from doing what they can as fast as they can.The IRS is offering taxpayers immediate relief in those counties and parishes that have been declared disaster areas by President Bush. The deadlines for making employment and excise tax deposits has been extended to September 23 while those for tax returns and other tax payments have been extended until October 31.

Occupancy Costs -- More than Just Rent

While rising rents in commercial real estate will impact occupancy costs, other components such as technical infrastructure and work environment changes can push these costs even higher, says Ryan Morris, President of Real Estate Partnerships & Alliances Inc. in the Houston Business Journal.

Small Business Owners Work Long Hours But Manage Work/Life Balance

The latest Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index finds that small business owners today work an average of 52 hours per week. The majority, 57 percent work six days a week and more than 20 percent work all seven days. Sixty-Five percent of respondents say that they make time outside of work for things that are important to them. The small business owners surveyed average two weeks of vacation per year with 14 percent taking no vacation at all.
Practice Management

New Roth 401(k) Option Will Be Offered in January

Employers can offer a new 401(k) retirement account starting January 1, 2006. The Roth 401(k) merges the traditional 401(k) account with the tax benefits of the Roth IRA. The new Roth 401(k) is funded using after-tax dollars and withdrawals from the account are tax-free while the traditional 401(k) is funded with pre-tax dollars and withdrawals are taxed as income. The Roth IRA has income eligibility limitations for single filers making more than $110,000 a year and joint filers making more than $160,000 yearly.

Small- and Medium-Sized Companies in UK Want to Halt Convergence

The Federation of Small Business (FSB) has joined the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) in calling for a halt to use of international financial reporting standards for small and medium-sized entities (SMEs) in the UK, according to a report in Accountancy Age.
Community News

Inside the 25th Annual Business & Technology Solutions Show: The Future Tunnel

Star Trek seemed pretty high-tech at the time, probably much like the abacus did. Wayne Harding, CPA, Vice President of Business Development at Rivet Software, used the old William Shatner vehicle to illustrate some very relevant and eye-opening points in his presentation on XBRL. Asked why the small firm CPA should pay attention to XBRL, Harding looked me directly in the eye (much like Shatner would) saying, “XBRL is here. It’s real.


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